With his team down 3-0 and NHL scoring leader Alex Ovechkin gone after a controversial first period hit, Nicklas Backstrom picked a great time to take hold of the spotlight. The Swedish center was the catalyst of Chicago’s second consecutive third period collapse with two goals and one assist, including the overtime game winner. This 4-3 win gives the Washington Capitals 101 points for the season, making them the first team in the NHL to hit 100 points.
For the first two periods of the game, it seemed that Ovechkin’s hit would be the only truly relevant storyline in a match dominated by the Blackhawks. Washington allowed two Jonathan Toews goals in the first period and then fell behind 3-0 when John Madden deftly re-directed a puck past Jose Theodore in the second. The Capitals went into the locker room looking downright listless.
Who knows what Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said to his young team during the second intermission, because Washington absolutely dominated the third period. Beginning with a PP goal by Brooks Laich, the Caps managed to score three goals in less than 2:30 of game time. In fact, the second and third goals came only 13 seconds apart.
Chicago must find a way to move on from what must be an extremely discouraging weekend. The Flyers beat the Blackhawks in an equally heart breaking fashion on Saturday, with Chicago coughing up a 2-1 lead by allowing two goals in the last two minutes (including a Chris Pronger game winner with only 2.1 seconds left). That’s two games in a row in which Chicago allowed 3 goals in the third period and only managed to take 1 out of 4 points in those contests. Could it be that Chicago’s problems go beyond their frequently criticized goalies?
No doubt about it, this is a huge win for the Capitals. Washington could have made plenty of excuses. Instead, they played an inspired final period against a team that many believe is the best in the NHL. Don’t be surprised if people look back at this game as the moment when Washington truly became an elite (and possibly Cup winning?) team.